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Odessa: Poems

Odessa: Poems

Автором Patricia Kirkpatrick

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Odessa: Poems

Автором Patricia Kirkpatrick

88 pages
33 minutes
Dec 17, 2012


A grim prognosis, brain cancer, leaves the speaker in Kirkpatrick’s Odessa fighting for her life. The tumor presses against her amygdalae, the emotional core of the self,” and central to the process of memory. In poems endowed with this emotional charge but void of sentimentality, Kirkpatrick sets out to recreate what was lost by fashioning a dreamlike reality. Odessa, roof of the underworld,” a refuge at once real and imagined, resembles simultaneously the Midwestern prairie and a mythical god-inhabited city. In image-packed lines bearing shades of Classical heroism, Kirkpatrick delivers a personal narrative of stunning dimension.
Dec 17, 2012

Об авторе

Patricia Kirkpatrick is the author of Odessa, awarded the first Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry and the 2013 Minnesota Book Award. She also has published Century’s Road, poetry chapbooks, and picture books. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Poetry, and the Threepenny Review, and in many anthologies. Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Loft Literary Center, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She has taught writing at many colleges, most recently in the University of Minnesota MFA program. She lives in Saint Paul.

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Odessa - Patricia Kirkpatrick



The vanishing road and the window lit for a second and then dark. And then the sudden dancing light, that was hung in the future.



Near the end of summer.

Wheatfield with lark. With swift,

longspur, and sparrow. I see the birds

opening tails and wings

above grasses

and hidden nests.

Soybeans with bells, yellowing, green

tassels of corn, geese

again and again.

I see the birds

but wind takes all the sound.

Small towns are reduced to chains or storefronts,


Almost to the river called a lake, gray stones of water,

dammed, white-capped, hinge

between states.

Some fields are so gold they seem to be singing.

The gold fields lie down, flat but not empty,

and will be harvested later with blades.

Near Odessa

I come to a place where the end is beginning.

Where the light is absolute, it rises.


for JS

I drove through Sacred Heart and Montevideo,

over the Chippewa River, all the way to Madison.

When I stopped, walked into grass—

bluestem, wild rose, a monarch—

I was afraid at first. Birds I couldn’t identify

might have been bobolinks,

non-breeding plumage.

I am always afraid of what might show up, suddenly.

What might hide.

At dusk I saw the start of low plateaus, plains

really, even when planted. Almost to the Dakota border

I was struck by the isolation and abiding loneliness

yet somehow thrilled. Alone. Hardly another car on the road

and in town, just a few teenagers

wearing high school sweatshirts, walking and laughing, on the edge

of a world they don’t know.

Darkness started as heaviness in the colors

of fields, a tractor, cornstalks, stone.

I turned back just before the Prairie Wildlife Refuge

at Odessa, the place I came to see. Closed.

Empty. The moon rose. Full.

I was driving Highway 7, the Sioux Trail.

I could feel the past the way I could in Mexico,

Mayan tombs in the jungle at Palenque,

men tearing papers from our hands.

Three hours still to drive home.


after Journal of a Prairie Year by Paul Gruchow (1947–2004)

The day starts wild and sure, abundant sun

strikes fields, the ordered corn

runs in pleasured rows.

Leaves blow across the road.

But in the west a clustered storm moves

closer, sending snow across the windshield.

Sun disappears. Soon plainly visible things—

cows, the map, fences, geese, a shed—

seem left behind.

It isn’t hard to picture

other people here

nor fire nor herds nor origins of weather that begin

as current meeting change.

But where is what they made?

Before the Red River flows north,

before houses with plastic

sacks of trash and oil drums

to burn garbage,

before iron wheels sparked grass along tracks

and kept going,

before cordgrass, pheasant, pasque flower,

before hides

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